Major computer issue. HELP!!

In the last 3 or 4 weeks, I’ve been having serious problems with booting into Windows. It started out as an intermittent problem and now it’s near 100% of the time.

I can get past the BIOS screen and a message will come up that “Last time, windows didn’t shut down properly” and it’ll give me several options (3 safe mode versions, a “last known good boot” and “boot normally”. All of them work intermittently. When the computer goes past that screen, it’ll start loading WIndows and I’ll see the green bar at the bottom with the flashing light.

Before it goes past that to the welcome screen with the round vista logo, it’ll reboot to the pre-BIOS screen. If I let it reboot over and over, sometimes I can get in, but more often not regardless of what option I choose.

I even have a program (Acronis True Image) that backs up my C: partition and the boot-DVD will only load intermittently–there’s a safe mode and a ‘normal’ mode–the normal mode only sometimes works.

The weird thing is the computer is 100% stable when in Windows. No errors (although it seems a little pokey), no problems, no issues. If I never had to reboot or worry about a power-loss, I’d be fine.

Here’s what I’ve tried (not in this order!) :

  1. Formatted my C: drive and tried a clean install of Vista from the original disks. No luck. It wouldn’t boot into Windows on the first install. (There are several partitions on the disk–I’ve chkdsk /f them all)

  2. Done the utility on the Vista disks to fix boot problems–I’ve run through it at least 10-12 times (including the restore point option) and no change.

  3. Ran a HDD checker and checked all sectors of the primary HDD. No problems found.

  4. Ran MemTest from dos and as far as I can tell, the memory’s fine. (which blew my theory)

  5. Done a ton of tests in windows (IOBit’s software, Avast anti-virus, Spybot, Malwarebytes–as far as I can tell, I’m clean).

I’m stumped. My next step is to hose all my partitions on that disk and start again. Maybe even DBaN ing the disk. Any suggestions before I go that far?

I’m leaning more towards a hardware issue (non-HDD) than a software issue. Is this a laptop or desktop?

Here’s a few things to try:

  1. Go into the BIOS and change some settings. Turn off stuff you don’t need. Check CPU temperature to see if it’s heating up too much, etc. (remember the old settings, so you can go back once you’re done experimenting).

  2. Remove RAM sticks. If you have more than one, re-seat only one and reboot. See if it works any different. Then remove the one and re-seat the other. See if that helps any.

  3. Boot from USB. Create a Knoppix bootable USB drive and boot from USB. See if your computer is stable.

  4. Create a bootable stress test CD.See if it returns anything useful.

Thanks Xash–

The computer is stable: If I DO get into Windows (big if) and don’t reboot, I have no problems at all. It’s only during that one point in the boot process that I have a problem. I’ve got UBCD but I didn’t try the stress test option.

And I’ve got an update: when I try to boot into safe mode, I just noticed it’s failing at crcdisk.sys

This HAS to be a HDD problem. I’m gonna DBaN both HDDs, repartition and see what happens. Any advice/comments would be appreciated.

Further updates as events warrant. :wink:

Ok–that was a big failure. After DBaNing and repartitioning, I tried to reinstall Vista: no luck. Got partway through the install and on one of the reboots gave a “Windows failed to start properly” error with the same menu.

Then I tried reformatting and using a buddy’s copy of Windows 7, just to see if it was my Vista disks. Windows 7 gave me the same problem but the error said “Windows has encountered an unexpected error. Reboot and try to install again.”


I wonder if something could be hosed with you BIOS. As I understand it, modern OSes provide drivers for specific hardware such as disk controllers, even if the BIOS provides a generic interface to them, so they no longer have to rely on the BIOS at all once they are booted. It seems like a longshot, but maybe there is a BIOS bug that is triggered by something intermittent like heat, and a BIOS update would fix it. Worth a try anyway. It is really the only explanation I can think of for such a marked difference in reliability between bootup and running once booted.

Then it has to be a hardware issue. Replace the hard drive.

I don’t think it’s the HDD—I think it’s the motherboard. I was poking around in the BIOS and noticed that I only had half the RAM I should. I took out the two sticks of memory and swapped them and it was still only showing half the RAM.

Turns out that neither is read in slot one and both are read in slot two.

In my professional opinion as a computer janitor, your shit is broke.